It was a cold Saturday afternoon. With the thermometer reading a brisk -21 C, it was probably one of the coldest days we’ve had this winter. It was the kind of cold that makes most people want to stay inside beside the fire and read a book.
Instead Roy Sturgeon, owner and operator at Flying Cross Ranch, spent it inside a huge metal barn heated only by a potbelly stove in the far corner of the room, where about 20 people gathered in an attempt to fend off the cold while watching their kids and friends compete in a friendly amateur rodeo competition.
“We run them for these kids to learn because a lot of them aren’t really ready to actually go compete. But this way they can come and try it out in their own environment when they’re at their level and they can do it safely and have fun,” said Sturgeon, who, along with his wife Christina, runs the Flying Cross Ranch’s Winter Series Rodeo, a fun event for those who are involved in riding and roping classes at the ranch.
“Anybody can, as long as they’ve taken lessons or come through clinics here – then they can come in the rodeos.”
Sturgeon said he grew up around horses and has always been around that culture. He’s been a competitive jockey, team roper and show jumper. He’s been doing riding lessons and roping clinics for about three years and started doing the mini rodeos about two years ago.
The rodeo allows the kids to try their hand at barrel racing, pole bending, goat roping, flag racing and a modified version of team penning.
In addition to the lessons and rodeos, the Sturgeons also run the Friends of Flying Cross Ranch, a society that fundraises for underprivileged kids to be able to take lessons and clinics.
“We like it because a lot of these kids, and even some of these adults, they’re never going to get a chance to do this. So here we have horses that trot around at their level and they can do it safely and have some fun. And then, in time, some of these kids will go on, that’s what we hope for,” Sturgeon said, adding that he hopes some of those kids outgrow the program to move on to bigger things.
“Truthfully, I hope some of these kids in time outgrow us. You want to get better and you want to move on.”
Saturday’s rodeo was the fourth of six that the Sturgeons will be running this winter, with the next one scheduled for Feb. 13th.